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8,000 Girls Ascend the Heavenly Mountain

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Iron shield of china

Iron shield of china

8,000 Girls Ascend the  Heavenly Mountain

The making of a new film in Beijing  casts an interesting light on Mao’s early efforts to colonise Xinjiang:

The film’s title, 8,000 Girls Ascend the  Heavenly Mountain, suggests that Chinese audiences will see a tale of joy when it is aired on television this autumn.

It dramatises the lives of thousands of girls aged 13 to 19 who went to China’s remote far west in the 1950s to follow soldiers sent to colonise the turbulent Muslim region.

In real life it was a trip to purgatory. As shooting for the film unfolds in Beijing under the watchful gaze of party censors, an astonishing story of mass deception, forced marriages and suicides has come to light.

Elderly women have come forward to tell how they were lured to China’s new frontier by false promises of training and education – only to find themselves locked in barracks and coerced into marrying soldiers.

Chinese journalists have also discovered that Chairman Mao Tse-tung approved the dispatch of 900 prostitutes from the brothels of Shanghai to undergo “thought reform” at the hands of the troops.

Thousands of war widows were also conscripted to go forth and multiply in the desert with new husbands from the People’s Liberation Army.

It casts new light on the leadership’s determination to occupy and populate the far west, known as Xinjiang, in the early 1950s. Ethnic conflict between Chinese and the Uighur Muslim population has flared ever since. […]

It remains to be seen how Chinese censors will allow the film to treat its subject, given the unrest in Xinjiang and the emergence of these accounts.

We can be reasonably sure, I think, that it won’t turn out to be a shocking exposé of the brutality of Maoist China and its expansionist policies in the west.



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September 4, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Posted in World News

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